Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge reviewed

Grunty, the evil witch that she is, has stolen Kazooie and gone back in time to stop Banjo once and for all, in the past. Mumbo, seeing this, sends Banjo back in time to save Kazooie and defeat Grunty once again. Does Banjo for Game Boy Advance make the grade? Read our review, with BK:GR played using the GBA SP.

The game starts in Spiral Mountain, where Banjo meets Mumbo's Grandfather, Bozzeye. After finding 10 notes, Banjo earns his first move, the pack whack, which enables him to open JiggyWiggy's Temple, and get started on his journey. Banjo also is informed of the Jinjo Oracle, who will give Banjo hints as well as a jiggy if all the jinjos are saved. So finally after seeing JiggyWiggy, Banjo is on his way to the first of six levels...

Starting our journey...

The first level, Cliff Farm, has a remarkable Banjo feel.
The controls are excellent for a 2d version of Banjo: Banjo hops, pack whacks, jumps, and rolls to perfection.

There are interesting characters to converse with (the hen has a nice quip about jumping in Banjo's pack), the level is large, and it takes some time to find every last note. It's fun, and you barely notice you're actually playing it on a GBA for a while. It's a fun level, and makes you realize that this is definately a Banjo game, and that it's here to stay. The lack of 3D takes a little getting used to, but after a few jiggies the controls and gameplay are learned well.

The rest of the levels...
As far as the levels go, the level design seems to improve with each level, to a great final level at Freezy Furnace. Levels are not necessarily challenging, although one or two jiggies are exceptionally frustrating (ie. the harbor one, where Banjo must learn the shockspring jump, then trigger it through wildly annoying thorns, run back and shockspring up, then hit another switch and run up the houses, flipping and jumping to the jiggy in less than 15 seconds). Overall, jiggies come quickly and easily, and they're not very difficult to find. Notes are equally easy, although a missed note can lead to an hour of frustration, since the player must retrace every last step. The mini-games within each level are great fun, albeit easy, and provide a nice addition. They're all playable in the arcade machine in the harbor, although that enjoyment doesn't last all that long.

It's a shame Rare didn't have more cross-connected levels. In fact, the only cross-connection was for one jiggy within the whole game, which required the tank transformation that could only be earned on the last level. Perhaps they wanted to remove the long 2D walks, but it certainly couldn't have hurt to include more. The transformations are strong and well-done, although since contained to certain areas are not used for that long a duration.

So where did they go wrong?
The three main gripes about this game are that it's: way too short, too easy, and has absolutely no replay value. The game initially can take from 6to 11 hours, and once beaten probably can be beaten again in about 3 hours. While Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge was fun once, it would border on extreme tediousness the second time around. Unlike its Nintendo 64 counterparts, this Banjo, while great the first time, just is a bore to play the second time. It's almost as if it was designed this way, with little to make a player play again (no time cheats, anything). The perhaps only replay desire would be if the player did not get to see the incomplete ending (which in fact is better than the 100% ending). One has to wonder if it was designed for short chunks on the go, rather than playing straight through.

Six levels just plain is not enough. Once the player gets the hang of things, the levels go quickly. They're fun, just very short. The 2D isn't even that hard to get used to, although it is frustrating when you cannot jump to the ledge right next to you, because it is too high. That's probably the only hindrance to the 2D game, that it is difficult to tell when and when you cannot flip-jump to the area next to you, and 90% of the time you cannot but want to. Also, you will die a lot in this game. Health goes extremely quickly, and you'll find yourself dying attempting to get nearly every jiggie this game has to offer. From icy lakes to thorns, dying is a frequent. It's not necessarily bad, since dying has little effect other than restarting the area.

Stop N Swop?
The eggs and ice key do not remotely make an appearance, and in fact there are no secrets to be had in Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, as far as we know. As this was a staple of the other games, it is a huge shame nothing made it into this: not even a pithy remark. While yes it does take place back in time, we still expect some secret to this game, something to keep us playing and exploring. Sadly, we got none. You play through once, and sadly, there's nothing that even sparks talk of a mystery. Huge disappointment, coming from the source of most video game mysteries in the last ten years.

The Bottom Line:
If you're a huge Banjo fan like the Rare Witch Project, this game is a great addition to your collection and very much worthy of the Banjo name. Unfortunately, it becomes a mere collector's piece after the first go (or at the most a second and third which shouldn't take too long), but you're a huge Banjo fan like us right? The game's good, just its complete lack of replay kills it. Bottom line: This mini Banjo game makes us want Banjo Threeie more than anything.

SOUND: 8/10

Very Banjo-like sounds and music, even characters sound pretty good for a GBA.


Very nice-looking graphics, within the limitations of the GBA.


Rare has mastered Banjo for GBA. We can think of little to improve the way Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge was designed (the functionality and how it seems). Rare has mastered the concept of platforming on the Game Boy Advance.

REPLAY: 2/10

So short you finish it before you feel like you even got into it. This is disastrous.


A must have for the die-hard Banjo fans, but other than that a great game that just simply is too short.
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